Accidental Fan Fiction

Sam Allingham observes a difficulty that many writers face:

All of us write towards the books we’ve read; something in a novel obsesses us, and we reach for it in our own language, hoping to replicate the feelings it evoked. A great deal of literary fiction is really fan fiction, in the sense that it bears the unmistakable traces of the books we’re grappling with. Not all fans are writers, but all writers are fans; I think that’s a tricky statement. All writers start out as fans, and many of us bear visible traces of that fandom our entire lives. That’s what drove Proust to write his endless parodies of other writers’ styles, to get it all out of his system. You build a structure out of your influences, but eventually that structure becomes a cage.